Turkey to reopen Varosha 'ghost town' in Northern Cyprus

Abandoned since 1974. New clash with Nicosia on drilling

19 June, 12:15

    (ANSAmed) - ISTANBUL, JUNE 19 - Authorities in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey, have decided to reopen the tourist area of Varosha in the coastal city of Famagusta.

    Varosha is famously known as a ghost town because it has been abandoned and closed to the public since 1974, when the Turkish military gained control of the area after a coup by the Greek military in an attempt to annex the island.

    Prior to the division of Cyprus, the area was very popular with tourists and had dozens of hotels, but it is now classified as a military zone under the control of Turkish soldiers.

    Local media said the necessary modifications to reopen the area will be established with the Turkish government in Ankara.

    According to a 1984 UN Security Council resolution, Varosha can be repopulated only by its original inhabitants, the majority of whom are Greek Cypriot.

    The decision comes at a time of heightened tensions due to Turkey's hydrocarbon exploration off Cyprus, which Nicosia claims is its exclusive economic area but Turkey maintains is part of its own continental shelf.

    In recent hours, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated his intention to defend "the rights and the interests of Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean", rejecting the European Union's warnings regarding Turkish drilling off Cyprus.(ANSAmed).

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